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AU: South Sudan's Capture of Heglig Oil Field 'Illegal'

The African Union said Thursday that South Sudan acted illegally when it sent troops across the border into Sudan to capture a strategic oil field and demanded the force's immediate withdrawal. Diplomats are urging the presidents of both countries to show leadership as war seems imminent.

The AU Peace and Security Council condemned Sudan as well as South Sudan for hostile actions that appear to signal a resumption of the war that ended seven years ago.  Peace and Security Commissioner Ramtane Lamamra warned that the south's military incursion into the northern oil field at Heglig and the north's aerial bombing campaign had raised tensions to a new level.

"It cannot be reduced to yet just another incident like the ones we have seen before.  Therefore, it is the feeling in the Peace and Security Council that it is the time now for the two leaders -- Presidents Omar al-Bashir and Salva Kiir -- to display the required leadership, so that the two countries would avoid a disastrous war which the two people do not need to fall in again," Lamamra said.

But the south's capture of Heglig appears to have dashed all hopes for a Bashir-Kiir summit.  The Khartoum government said it was pulling out of AU-mediated talks.  And a hoped-for meeting on the sidelines of a security summit in Ethiopia on Saturday and Sunday evaporated when it was announced that President Bashir would not attend.

AU diplomats say South Sudan's move to capture and close the Heglig oil fields has cut Sudan's oil production in half.  That has raised calls in Khartoum for swift military action to reclaim the fields.

As border clashes escalated on Thursday, South Sudan President Kiir told parliament he would not order a withdrawal from Heglig.  He said the south has a rightful claim to the area.

The AU Peace and Security Council rejected that claim, in a statement read by Commissioner Lamamra.

"The council is dismayed by the illegal and unacceptable occupation by the South Sudanese armed forces of Heglig, which lies north of the agreed border line of the first of January 1956 border line.  The Council demanded the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of the army of the Republic of South Sudan from the area," Lamamra said.

African Union officials expressed concern about deteriorating conditions on several fronts.  The Khartoum government is said to be delaying efforts to provide humanitarian aid to South Kordofan and Blue Nile states along the border.  More than 400,000 people there fled their homes last year after violence broke out, and reports suggest that troops are massing for more fighting.

AU diplomats also noted reports of irregular militias forming to support regular Sudanese army forces in Blue Nile and Kordofan states.  Those officials say that previously, military activity in the region had been exclusively by regular military units.  

The appearance of militia units is raising fears of a return to the village burnings and other brutal tactics attributed to the Janjaweed militias that ravaged Darfur during the early days of that region's civil war nearly a decade ago.

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by: yuyubenson
April 16, 2012 10:36 AM
South Sudan should adhere to international conventions and respect the ruling of the international arbitration court on Heglig which was judged to be part of the Republic of Sudan. It is unfortunate this new state has began on the wrong footing.

by: Pete
April 13, 2012 5:26 PM
AU has became useless organization and mouthpiece of criminal like Bashir and its clearly shown that AU is not really partial about this conflict. Imagine Sudan government has been bombing South Sudan during the independent upto now, Sudan decided to invaded in front of UN & AU and they have never condamn Sudan or asked her to withdrawn with or without unconditional. Wether AU or UN want it is all fair game. South Sudanese suffered for a very long time.

by: sunm kalotori
April 13, 2012 9:25 AM
I can not blame north Sudan but south Sudan is also threat because they knew that world will support them because Bashir sound victim everywhere

by: Tiger
April 13, 2012 7:21 AM
I think AUgust,UN should urge the North Sudan to immediately pull out it's troops from Abyei,otherwise South Sudan will comply with the threatness from AU and the UN.even now there's evidences about Khartoum bombardment to the innocent civilians and AU,UN haven't say anything to North.

by: Tiger
April 13, 2012 7:10 AM
AU,UN and the rest don't know about the history of Sudan ,stop giving Heglig to the North Sudan.Abyei is part of the South Sudan.

by: kissa durank
April 13, 2012 4:12 AM
AU and the arts of defending and supporting of Sudan government in killing millions of Sudanese. Where has AU been all those months when Sudan government has been bombing South Sudan, killing thousands and occupying Abyei !

by: Emah
April 13, 2012 1:23 AM
as if the 21 years of civil war isn't enough. we lost our dear ones, we live in ruins all our lives. deeply wounded. we thought we had a future again after the separation but its was too soon to believe that. our smiles are fading off from our faces. we have no one to look for for help! we are ignored. our pains have not been felt. where else do we go again? " i will lift my hands and cry to GOD for help because that is where our help comes from"

by: Ori Nimu
April 12, 2012 11:23 PM
AU should know Heglig, Kafika Kingi, Abyei belong to South according to 1956 boundery, when Oil and Copper were discovered in these areas Khartoum decreed it Unity State. AU the world community must know these areas belong to RSS including Abyei. Please investigate the legal owners, before making illegal statements.

by: Martin
April 12, 2012 11:19 PM
AU and UN are not fair enough to order the withdrawal of southern armies from
Heglig when bodies are lying day by day in Bentiu from aerial bombardment from Khartoum and no concern from AU and UN. Note only
that, when Khartoum invaded Abyei upto now occupying no one asked them to withdraw or if any no action taken against them. We south Sudanese have the right to revenge to self deference since their no rule of law internationally.

by: Erua Doro
April 12, 2012 11:08 PM
AU & UN are always biased.The cause of the last Sudan's civil war & the cancellation of the Adiss Ababa agreement was the discovery of oil in Southern Sudan. Nimeiri became very arrogant and decided to annex some part of South to the North and renaming them to Arabic names so that at the end the AU & UN will believe they are part of Northern Sudan. They don't sleep always planning evils & how to eradicate Southerners. Heglig's real name is Panthum. We will die for it.
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